(b. 14 Sept. 1911, d. 10 Mar. 1985).
General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 1984–5 Born in Novoselovo, he joined the Communist Party in 1930 and, after serving in the Cheka border guards (1930–3) became a party official working on organization and propaganda. After activity in his native Krasnoyarsk area, he became head of the propaganda department of the Moldovan Communist Party Central Committee in 1958, where he met the local party leader, Brezhnev, with whom he established an excellent relationship. Despite his mediocrity, his subsequent rapid rise was commensurate with that of Brezhnev, until he himself joined the party's Central Committee (1971) and the Politburo (1978). Brezhnev clearly groomed his trusted lieutenant to succeed him, though in 1982 the party leadership went to the much more gifted Andropov instead. When Andropov died, Chernenko was chosen mainly in order to stall the inevitable rise of Gorbachev. His death marked the final end of the Brezhnev era, and removed all obstacles to Gorbachev's final rise to power.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).